Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Recreation/Snowshoeing

North American Division
See also Snowshoeing - Advanced
Skill Level 1
Year of Introduction: 2010

1. Describe the shape and size of three types of snowshoes and when/how they might be used (Aerobic/running, recreation, mountaineering).




An aerobic/running snowshoe is intended for use by runners who would otherwise not be able to train in their sport when there is snow on the ground.

They are smaller and lighter than other types of snowshoes and are intended for use on packed snow. Further, the bindings are usually closer to the inside edge of the shoe so that the runner can maintain a more natural stride than with other types of snowshoes. These snowshoes are also likely to have an asymmetric shape.



Recreation snowshoes are larger than aerobic/running snowshoes, and are meant for use in gentle-to moderate walks of 5 to 8 km . In most cases, recreation snowshoes can be used as all-purpose shoes, and will last the user for many years of even rough use. These snowshoes are most often symmetric and somewhat oval-shaped.



Mountaineering are the largest snowshoes, and are meant for serious hill-climbing, long-distance trips and off-trail use. Like recreational shoes, mountaineering shoes are most often symmetrical and oval shaped, though they will be more of an elongated oval than the recreational counterparts.

The size of the shoe needed is dictated by two factors: the weight of the person using them, and the condition of the snow on which they will be used. Snowshoes will sink more deeply into light fluffy snow (such as the snow for which Utah is famous) requiring a larger shoe. Wet or packed snow can be traversed with smaller shoes.

2.Describe the following snowshoe accessories and their usefulness while snowshoeing


a.Trekking poles


Trekking poles help you balance when snowshoeing, can be used to assist in getting up after a fall, and can spread the workload from your legs to your arms giving you a better workout.

b.Hiking boots


Snowshoes do not come with a foot covering. The snowshoer must provide that separately. Hiking boots are a good choice because they are warm, relatively waterproof, and lightweight. Snow boots are not necessary because the snowshoe will keep the boot above the snow (for the most part). The added weight of a snow boot can be exhausting.



Gaiters are garments worn over the shoe and lower pant leg, and used primarily as personal protective equipment. Gaiters strap over the boot and around the person's leg to provide protection from branches and thorns and to prevent snow from entering the top of the boot.

3. Demonstrate proper technique of the following while using snowshoes




Walking skills are easily transferable to straightforward snowshoe travel, but this is not always the case with turning around. While a snowshoer with space to do so can, and usually does, simply walk in a small semicircle, on a steep slope or in close quarters such as a boreal forest this may be impractical or impossible. It is thus necessary in such circumstances to execute a "kick turn" similar to the one employed on skis: lifting one foot high enough to keep the entire snowshoe in the air while keeping the other planted, putting the foot at a 180 degree angle and parallel to the other (or as close as possible for the situation and the snowshoer's physical comfort), then planting it on the snow and quickly repeating the action with the other foot. This is much easier to accomplish with poles.


Some modern snowshoes have bars that can be flipped up for ascending steep slopes. The wearer's heel can rest on the bar.

While the cleating and traction improvements to modern snowshoes have greatly enhanced snowshoers' climbing abilities, on very steep slopes it is still beneficial to make "kick steps," kicking the toes of the shoes into the snow to create a kind of snow stairs for the next traveler to use.

Alternatively, snowshoers can use two techniques borrowed from skis: the herringbone (walking uphill with the shoes spread outward at an angle to increase their support) and the sidestep.

For those snowshoers who use poles, it can be easier to rely on the poles to 'pull' oneself with regular stride, up the slope.



Once a trail has been broken up a mountain or hill, snowshoers often find a way to speed up the return trip that manages to also be fun and rests the leg muscles: glissading the trail, or sliding down on their buttocks. This does not damage the trail, and in fact helps pack the snow better for later users.

In situations where they must break trail downhill and thus cannot glissade, snowshoers sometimes run downhill in exaggerated steps, sliding slightly on the snow as they do, an option sometimes called "step sliding." Also effective, are poles placed in front as you descend in a regular stride. If carrying poles and properly experienced, they can also employ skiing techniques such as telemarking.

d.Breaking Trail

A broken snowshoe trail

On newly fallen snow it is necessary for a snowshoer to "break" a trail. This is tiring (it may require up to 50% more energy than simply following behind) even on level terrain, and frequently in groups this work is shared among all participants.

A trail breaker can improve the quality of the ensuing route by using a technique, similar to the hiking rest step, called "stamping": pausing momentarily after each step before putting full weight on the foot. This helps smooth the snow underneath and compacts it even better for the next user.

A well-broken trail is usually a rut in the snow about 15-20cm  deep and 60cm  wide. While it may appear after heavy use as if it is possible to "bareboot" or walk it without benefit of snowshoes, this practice is frowned upon by serious snowshoers as it leads to "postholing," or roughening of the trail from places where boots have fallen through (initial appearances to the contrary, the snow in a broken trail is not sufficiently packed to support the more concentrated weight of a foot).

In soft conditions, following trails broken by backcountry skiers can be difficult on snowshoes. Ski trails are normally much narrower than a typical snowshoe trail, and less well packed because skis offer more flotation than snowshoes. If the snow is deep and soft, snowshoers may find themselves postholing right through the ski track. The recommended technique is to place the snowshoes one directly in front of the other within the ski track. This technique utilizes the most well packed part of the ski trail and minimizes the chances of breaking through.

4. Explain the principles of maintaining body warmth and dryness through the correct use of proper clothing, under various winter conditions, while traveling and resting. Know how to successfully prevent and treat hypothermia in winter conditions.


Maintaining Warmth


The key to staying warm in the winter is to stay dry. This is done by dressing in layers which are easily vented. While snow shoeing, hiking, or cross country skiing, an individual generates an enormous amount of body heat. Unless the person is careful, the body will overheat, and the person will begin to perspire. When the person stops to rest, the perspiration will begin to chill the body. It is therefore imperative that the active person dress in layers. When the body begins to heat up, the outer jacket should be vented, which is to say, unzipped. If heat continues to build, the outer jacket should be removed. If this does not cool the body enough to end perspiration, another layer should be vented, and perhaps shed. Eventually, the clothing will match the person's level of activity, where enough body heat is generated to keep the person warm, but not sweaty. If it is snowing, sleeting, or raining, be sure the outermost layer is waterproof.

If a person finds that he (or she) has not controlled his (or her) perspiration sufficiently, it is important to change out of the sweat-soaked garments as soon as possible. For once the chills set in, they are difficult to overcome. Do not wear cotton garments for winter camping. Cotton will keep you warm only if it is kept perfectly dry, and keeping it perfectly dry is nearly impossible. Winter campers are quick to admonish that cotton kills. Instead wear woolen or synthetic garments.

When the day's exertion ends, it is time to start adding layers again. When it is finally time to go to bed, the winter camper should climb into a warm sleeping bag and zip up. Sleeping bags are generally given a temperature rating. It would be foolish to set out on a winter camping expedition with a $10.00 sleeping bag that is only good down to 40°F . Make sure the temperature rating matches the expected conditions, and reserve a little margin for bad forecasting. Also, don't forget that weather forecasts often do not cover higher elevations, so if you're hiking in mountainous areas, be aware of the conditions at the altitude you're going to be spending your time. Again, if perspiration begins, the bag should be partially unzipped to allow the air to cool the body before sweat does.



Hypothermia is caused by continued exposure to low or rapidly falling temperatures, cold moisture, snow, or ice. Those exposed to low temperatures for extended periods may suffer ill effects, even if they are well protected by clothing, because cold affects the body systems slowly, almost without notice. As the body cools, there are several stages of progressive discomfort and disability. The first symptom is shivering, which is an attempt to generate heat by repeated contractions of surface muscles. This is followed by a feeling of listlessness, indifference, and drowsiness. Unconsciousness can follow quickly. Shock becomes evident as the victim’s eyes assume a glassy stare, respiration becomes slow and shallow, and the pulse is weak or absent. As the body temperature drops even lower, peripheral circulation decreases and the extremities become susceptible to freezing. Finally, death results as the core temperature of the body approaches 80 °F (27 °C). The steps for treatment of hypothermia are as follows:

  1. Carefully observe respiratory effort and heart beat; CPR may be required while the warming process is underway.
  2. Rewarm the victim as soon as possible. It may be necessary to treat other injuries before the victim can be moved to a warmer place. Severe bleeding must be controlled and fractures splinted over clothing before the victim is moved.
  3. Replace wet or frozen clothing and remove anything that constricts the victim’s arms, legs, or fingers, interfering with circulation.
  4. If the victim is inside a warm place and is conscious, the most effective method of warming is immersion in a tub of warm (100° to 105 °F or 38° to 41 °C) water. The water should be warm to the elbow - never hot. Observe closely for signs of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest (rewarming shock). Rewarming shock can be minimized by warming the body trunk before the limbs to prevent vasodilation in the extremities with subsequent shock due to blood volume shifts.
  5. If a tub is not available, apply external heat to both sides of the victim. Natural body heat (skin to skin) from two rescuers is the best method. This is called “buddy warming.” If this is not practical, use hot water bottles or an electric rewarming blanket. Do not place the blanket or bottles next to bare skin, however, and be careful to monitor the temperature of the artificial heat source, since the victim is very susceptible to burn injury. Because the victim is unable to generate adequate body heat, placement under a blanket or in a sleeping bag is not sufficient treatment.
  6. If the victim is conscious, give warm liquids to drink. Never give alcoholic beverages or allow the victim to smoke.
  7. Dry the victim thoroughly if water is used for rewarming.
  8. As soon as possible, transfer the victim to a definitive care facility. Be alert for the signs of respiratory and cardiac arrest during transfer, and keep the victim warm.

5. Explain the safety value of the following practices


a.Taking and understanding how to use a good map and compass or hiking GPS.


This practice will help you with two things. The first is that it can prevent you from getting lost. The second is that if you do get lost, it can help you to find your way again. Though GPS receivers are very good at pinpointing your location and plotting a route to get you to where you are going, you should not rely solely on this technology. Batteries fail, and devices break. While this is true of a compass too, a compass is far less complicated than a sensitive electronic device such as a GPS receiver. In a pinch, a compass can be made with found materials. It is therefore a good idea to learn how to use a compass and map, and to practice using them so that you will have the necessary skills should your GPS device fail.

b.Leaving a plan with someone when you are snowshoeing.


As with any outdoor activity that involves trails or going to a place that is infrequently visited by other people, it is important to share your plans with someone who is not going with you. That way if you get into trouble while you are away from help, they will know to call for a rescue. Do not assume you can always call for rescue on your own. You (or your phone) may become incapacitated, rendering this an impossibility. You should therefore leave your plan with someone who will not be joining you on your excursion. Details should include where you will be going, who will be going with you (or will meet you there), and when you plan to return. The person you tell this information to could be someone you know and trust, or it could be a park ranger (many parks require people to check in with them before proceeding into the wilderness areas).

If you do not share your intended route, your outside contact will not know where to tell the authorities to begin searching for you should the need arise.
If you neglect to indicate who will be with you on the trip, a rescue team will not know who they are looking for, or how many individuals they should hope to find. When canines are used in these searches, they are sometimes given an item on which the lost person's scent may be present.
Let your contact know when you plan to return. If you will be camping overnight, and you do not return on the same day you set out, there is no cause for alarm. However, if you do not plan to stay overnight, and do not return on the same day, there is ample cause for alarm. Some localities will attempt to recover a rescue operation's cost from the people who are rescued (especially if they can show that the rescued persons were ill-prepared for the conditions they were likely to encounter). It is therefore important to not call for rescue unless it is warranted.

If your plans are complicated, or if the person you are telling does not have a reliable memory (and there are many people who fall into this category), put your plan in writing. A blog post, tweet, or Facebook status update will do fine. Once you announce your plan, stick to it except to turn back early in the case that the situation changes. If you veer off the planned trail on the spur of the moment, it is exactly as if you never shared your plan with an outside contact at all. If you are able to contact someone via cell phone to update your plan from the field, then it should be safe to proceed (at least as far as sharing the plan goes - there may be other dangers).

Remember that exposure to the elements is the number one cause of death when a person (or party) gets lost in the wilderness. When snowshoeing, you can almost be guaranteed that the elements will be sufficiently extreme as to cause death by exposure. You must counter this risk with caution and preparedness.

c. Snowshoeing with a partner


If you or your partner are injured while in the wilderness, it is better to go get help immediately rather than waiting for your outside contact to notice that you have not returned. This could cause an unnecessary delay and put the injured person's life at risk. A partner may also be able to assist an injured person to safety if the injury is not too grave.

d. Carrying sufficient water and snacks

It is easy to become dehydrated when exerting oneself. Take plenty of water to avoid this risk. When snowshoeing, it is a small matter to tow a supply sled, so you can load it up with supplies. Be warned though, that water can freeze. A Camelbak (or similar equipment) is good for this because the water is held near the body where it can be warmed by the heat you give off. If you do run out of water, do not eat snow or ice - melt it first. Consuming frozen water will lower your body temperature and increase the risk of hypothermia.
One reason that snowshoeing is such a great activity is because you can pretty much eat constantly while on the trail without gaining weight. You need energy. If you become incapacitated, having a store of energy available will allow you to warm yourself with your metabolism by shivering. Shivering is the body's way of converting food energy to heat, but that energy must come from somewhere. If you run out of energy to metabolize, but are still cold, your body temperature will drop and you will be at risk of hypothermia.

e. Carrying a first aid, survival, and repair kits.

First Aid Kit
A minor injury, if left untreated, can become life threatening in the wilderness. Bring a first aid kit to keep a minor injury minor.
Survival Kit
A survival kit will contain items to prevent death by exposure. It should include reliable fire-starting equipment, a whistle, and an emergency blanket or sleeping bag. Spare, dry clothing is also a good idea.
Repair Kit
A repair kit will help you to effect a repair to a broken snowshoe or to a torn item of clothing. Duct tape and cable ties can work miracles. Remember that snowshoes will allow you to travel farther faster, so if you get halfway through your journey and your snowshoes fail, you will have to execute the second half without the benefits a snowshoe provides. This translates into slower progress, potentially leaving you in the wilderness after darkness falls, and exposing you to additional risk. Compromised outerwear will not keep water away from your skin, so it too should be repaired in the field if necessary.

6. Demonstrate how to get up if you are wearing a pair of snowshoes after falling in the snow.


The first thing to do when you fall is to check that you are not injured. Then roll onto your stomach, raise yourself up on all fours, pushing with your forearm until you can shift your weight to your knees. Assume a kneeling position. Then while steadying yourself with trekking poles (if you are using them), raise one knee and get the snowshoe beneath yourself. Then as you stand on that leg, get the other shoe into its proper position.

Once you have regained your feet, brush as much snow off yourself as you can. Otherwise, it will melt on your clothing and you will get soaked. Remember that the secret to staying warm is to stay dry.

7. Demonstrate the importance of bindings and be able to correctly fasten your boots in the binding of your snowshoes.


When traditional wooden shoes were still popular, it was common to buy the bindings separately (much like downhill skis), and many wooden shoes are still sold this way). They were commonly called "H" bindings, since they consisted of a strap around the heel crossing a strap around the toe and one at the instep, forming a rough version of that letter.

On modern shoes, there are two styles of binding: fixed-rotation (also known as "limited-rotation") bindings, and full-rotation (also known as "pivot") bindings. With either binding system, the heel is left free, and the difference is in how the ball of the foot is attached to the snowshoe.

In fixed-rotation bindings, the binding is attached to the snowshoe with an elastic strap that brings the tail of the snowshoe up with each step. The snowshoe therefore moves with the foot and the tail does not drag. Fixed-rotation bindings are preferred for racing. Full-rotation bindings allow the user's toes to pivot below the deck of the snowshoe. They allow the crampon cleats that are under the foot to be kicked into a slope for grip in climbing, but are relatively awkward for stepping sideways and backwards as the tail of the snowshoe can drag. Fixed-rotation bindings often cause snow to be kicked up the back of the wearer's legs; this does not tend to happen with full-rotation bindings.

A series of straps, usually three, are used to fasten the foot to the snowshoe. Some styles of binding use a cup for the toe. It is important that a user be able to manipulate these straps easily, as removing or securing the foot often must be done outdoors in cold weather with bare hands, exposing him or her to the possibility of frostbite. When putting on snowshoes, left is distinguished from right by which way the loose ends of the binding straps point: always outward, to avoid stepping on them repeatedly.

In 1994, Bill Torres and a younger associate developed the step-in binding, designed to make it easier for snowshoers wearing hard-shelled plastic boots (serious mountaineers) to change from snowshoes to crampons and back again as needed.

Snowshoe manufacturers each have their own designs for bindings, and each design fastens differently. Because of this, it is not possible to give generic instructions for fastening them. You will have to consult the instructions that come with your shoes in order to fasten them correctly.

When selecting snowshoes, the bindings are one of the most important features to consider. They should be easy to put on, and easy to get off. If they are not, you will be much less likely to use them. Also remember that the bindings will likely require adjustments while you are out on the trail. Under these conditions, the straps are likely to be stiff with ice, and your fingers are likely to be cold.

Some experienced snowshoers [1] advise against bindings that are based on straps that make two passes through a buckle and rely on friction to stay put.

8. Take a series of three hikes – a short hike, a one-mile hike, and a two-mile hike. Make a detailed report describing the approximate depth and condition of the snow, plants and animals, and the approximate speed at which you travelled.


An excellent place to begin snowshoeing is on a golf course. The course will obviously not be used by golfers when it is covered with snow. Golf courses provide open spaces and gentle slopes. Other options are parks, hiking trails, and cross-country skiing trails.

Be sure to record your trip as soon as possible upon your return. It is easy to forget details. Measure the snow depth with a stick. Is the snow light and fluffy, or is it wet and packed?

To maximize your chances of seeing wild animals, minimize your noise. Look for animal tracks and listen for birds. Bring a camera and see if you can capture the beauty of the snow-laden landscape.

9. Explain the meaning of the term “whiter than snow” found is Psalm 51:7. What other natural metaphors could you use to demonstrate the meaning of this verse?

Psalm 51:7 (NIV)
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

The color white represents purity. In this verse, the psalmist compares sinlessness with the whiteness of snow. It is easy to see flecks of dirt in snow, and it is likewise easy to tell that snow is clean and pure. When we are cleansed of sin by Jesus, we are completely purified.

For other metaphors, try to think of things in nature that are pure or white. Here are some ideas:

  • Rain water
  • Wool
  • Flour
  • Pure grape juice (wine has leavening in it, and leaven is a symbol of sin).


  1. Snowshoeing, A Trailside Guide by Larry Olmsted